It's Friday, Oct. 20 in the ballroom at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel. Dr. Afua Cooper speaks to the international crowd at the Universities Studying Slavery conference after coffee, tea and eggs, and presents a poem written for this moment. Cooper is a distinguished historian and poet, Killam Research Chair in Black and African Diaspora Studies at Dalhousie University and the principle investigator of the project A Black People's History of Canada. Cooper was also chair and lead author of the Report on Lord Dalhousie’s History on Slavery and Race.
In “Nova Scotia and slavery,” one of two morning breakout sessions, three panelists presented their varied research into historical resistance and documentation of enslaved Black people in what would become Atlantic Canada—emphasizing how tenuous and mutable categories of "free" and "enslaved" were to those lives could be violently interrupted by re-enslavement.
Thursday, Oct. 19
8am: H.E. John Mahama, Ghana's former president
12pm: Dr. Sylvia D. Hamilton, University of King's College
6:30pm: Sir Hilary Beckles, University of the West Indies
Friday, Oct. 20
9am: Dr. Afua Cooper, Dalhousie University
12pm: Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield, University of Calgary
6:30pm: Dr. George Elliott Clarke, University of Toronto
Saturday, Oct. 21
9am: H.E. David Comissiong, Clement Payne Movement founder
The three presenters were Alfonso F. Saville from Princeton University, Eleanor Bird from Lancaster University in the UK and Tony N. VanWinkle from Guilford College in North Carolina. VanWinkle looked at the state of “marronage,” which is the establishment of communities by marooned African peoples who escaped enslavement and travelled north, establishing food sources as “ecologies of resistance” where they settled.
Over lunch, Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield traced the life of a young enslaved girl through what would become Atlantic Canada, saying “there's so much that we don't know about her. We don't know her likes and dislikes…if she liked to dance," and implored the audience to get as much as possible out of primary documents, to "wring them dry."